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Supreme Court to Hear Challenge in ‘Potentially Momentous’ Case Testing College Affirmative Action

Posted Feb 21, 2012 10:29 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to race-conscious admissions policies used by the University of Texas.

The case is “another election-year blockbuster,” CNN reports. Apparently, the story says, “health care reform, illegal immigration crackdowns, voting rights, and TV indecency were not enough” for the high court.

The plaintiff, Abigail Fisher, was refused admission under University of Texas policies that determine the bulk of admissions by class rank, and then fill the remaining spots based on academics, personal achievement and race. The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Texas admissions policy and refused to grant en banc review in June 2011.

Law dean Erwin Chemerinsky of the University of California at Irvine calls the case “potentially momentous.” He counts four likely votes to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, which upheld a law school admissions policy that used race as just one factor in the admissions decision. The outcome will probably depend on Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.

The case is Fisher v. University of Texas. Justice Elena Kagan has recused herself from the case, the New York Times reports.

Prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Law Prof’s Amicus Brief in Potential Supreme Court Case Says Preferences Hurt Minorities"

ABAJournal.com: "Grutter Ruling on Use of Diversity in College Admissions Could Be Overturned, Experts Say"

ABAJournal.com: "College Affirmative Action Could Be Back Before Supreme Court"

ABAJournal.com: "Chemerinsky: Momentous Term for the ‘Kennedy Court’?"

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